This is fascinating! History is such an interesting field because we often forget how malleable it is. It brings up an interesting issue in terms of what should be included in history, since so much of it is subjective. How does someone write an objective history? Fascinating stuff!
This is an inspiring post! One of the most important lessons, not just in graduate school, but in life, is to never be afraid to fail. Failure is how we learn. You aren’t going to figure it all out the first time. That’s why we stress revision in my field, because it is a way to examine and correct your mistakes. Leonardo Da Vinci said “Art is never done, only abandoned.”
This song is a classic, but the film is just so subversive. I think it certainly captures one attitude toward the creation of drone-like students being put into a meat grinder and coming out as a “product” of all of the “necessary” ingredients to make them fully functioning members in society. I like that you are able to connect this to Freire because I think it works perfectly.
I like this post a lot. Part of the graduate experience for me, so far, has been to reinforce many of the aspects of my character and talents that I held previously. However, sometimes it is important to stand back and ask ourselves why it is that we are doing what we are doing. Why am I studying English? What is it about literature, language, rhetoric that is so appealing to me? And furthermore, what aspects of my personality make it a compatible discipline for me? These are hard questions to ask oneself, but they are even harder to answer. I think, in a sense, there shouldn’t be much more of a clear answer other than “I love it!” Maybe that is the point of grad school…
It certainly takes a sort of courage to be vulnerable, to open up to something or someone. I thought the video we watched in class was amazing, because there is something truly fascinating watching someone open up and come around to the idea that they don’t have to close themselves off from what they really love. Academia needs to find ways to promote this kind of thinking, instead of pushing people into a field based on the amount of money one will make or the utility of a position in society.
It takes a lot of courage not only to share this story, but to have actually lived it. It’s something that I’m not sure I’d be able to do, not because it is wrong, but rather that I feel the pressure to conform a bit to the standards of education, particularly in what is “expected” of me.
It seems as though you have done a great job of finding a path that suits you, and that is all that matters. I agree with you that learning needs to be framed as interdisciplinary, and your resistance against the fractured disciplines, I feel it is safe to say, has been a success story.
I was in a community theatre show a while back and one of my fellow actors in the play, had never acted before. In fact, he had never even seen a play before. He was a blue-collar guy (not to draw on generalizations), who had a tough childhood, and concerned himself mostly with cars and work for a good portion of his life. However, he was a perfect choice for the role in the play, because the character had similar traits.
So, anyway, he had trouble coming to evening rehearsals because his boss wouldn’t let him off work in time, despite his numerous explanations that he needed to be somewhere. He said the boss heard he was in a play, and made a comment about how “that sissy stuff ain’t no excuse for missing work.” As the process progressed, he invited his boss to come see the show, to have him see what all the fuss was about.
So the boss shows up, sits right in the front row, so that we can see him throughout the entire performance. About 10 minutes into the show, I notice him. And he was enthralled. He didn’t move once. He was fixated. At one point, he even appeared to be crying.
We finished the run of the show, and a few weeks later I was standing in line at the grocery store when I see the boss. He comes up to me. “Hey, you’re that guy for the play, right?” “Yes,” I said. “Hey, man, that was amazing. I hadn’t seen anything like that before, and I didn’t know what to expect. But you guys were great. I’ll never forget it.” He shook my hand and as he walked away, you couldn’t force the smile from my face.
Sometimes, the arts and humanities aren’t just for the artists. Sometimes, they’re for everyone else.
To be fair, it is only one test. You shouldn’t bog yourself down because there was one instance where your implicit bias happened to show. Human beings are biased creatures. There are things which we wrestle with regularly. I hope that this self reflection ends up being productive rather than disruptive.
The STEM fields aren’t the only ones struggling with diversity. The arts and humanities aren’t perfect either. Case-in-point: this year’s Oscars. Not a single African-American was nominated (for the second straight year, eliciting a boycott by some who were displeased with the Academy’s choices). Adding to that, only one woman has ever won Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow) while only 4 have been nominated in the ceremony’s 88-year history. No African-American has won (only three have been nominated). However, in the last four years, the honor has gone to a Taiwanese director, and two Mexican directors (Alejandro G. Inarritu won twice in a row).
There is a really good episode of the Freakonomics podcast that talks about this exact issue, and actually talks about how some schools in large cities have implemented individualized curricula to students based on their individual skills. I think it really speaks to your point about how education wants to penalize ” unique talents and divergent thinking.”